Victory move closer to finals

Melbourne Victory have all but secured their first Westfield W-League finals appearance with a last-gasp victory over Canberra United at Olympic Park on Saturday.

Melbourne Victory have all but secured their first Westfield W-League finals appearance with a last-gasp victory over Canberra United at Olympic Park on Saturday.

The game looked set for a goalless draw until substitute Katie Thorlakson lashed in the winner for Melbourne in the 89th minute to clinch a crucial 1-0 victory.

ABC TV player of the match Katrina Gorry was thrilled with the result for Melbourne that now sees the finals firmly on the agenda.

“We always knew it would be a tough game but in that final 20 minutes we just pulled through and got that goal we needed,” she said.

“We knew we needed to win today, Canberra were just clear on goal difference so it was probably our biggest game of the season.”

Gorry took defenders on at will and will hope to take her strong form into the finals, should Melbourne make it.

“Yeah it was one of my better games, all of the girls worked really well and fought it out until the end and that showed with the late winner,” she said.

Just goal difference separated Canberra and the Victory which occupied fourth and fifth respectively on the Westfield W-League ladder going into the match.

And with just two games remaining the importance of the match was not lost on either side.

Melbourne named an unchanged line-up for the clash against a largely inexperienced Canberra side without Cian Maciejewski, who sprained an ankle midweek.

In the first half it was Melbourne that did the early pressing.

For much of the half Canberra struggled to maintain any forward possession with the diminutive strike pairing of Shu-o Tseng and Ashleigh Sykes overwhelmed by Melbourne-s towering centre backs in Laura Alleway and Maika Ruyter-Hooley.

However, Canberra-s pace up forward did start to create some openings with the referee waving away a handball claim from Sykes deep in Canberra-s penalty box on 20 minutes.

A great ball in from Gorry soon after fell into the path of Selin Kuralay who should-ve scored for Melbourne.

Instead Canberra keeper Lydia Williams made a fine double save to keep the teams deadlocked.

Williams was called on again when a goalmouth scramble saw her well off her line, but she managed to get back to gather Deanna Niceski-s blocked shot.

Melbourne-s sustained pressure nearly paid off when Ruyter-Hooley-s launching header from a corner looked goal-bound, but again Williams managed a fine save.

Canberra fashioned a chance of its own late in the half with a header from Kahlia Hogg flashing inches wide of the post.

Shortly after the half, Niceski made way for the more experienced Thorlakson up forward which proved to be the game-changing move.

With a little over 25 minutes to play the rain started to topple down making a goal look all the more unlikely.

But it was Thorlakson that reacted quickest to pounce on a loose ball in the box with only a few minutes remaining.

Her goal was enough to separate the sides and give Melbourne a huge advantage.

Apart from Gorry, who was industrious in the middle, Julianne Sitch was full of energy as usual for the Victory and was involved in a number of their forward thrusts.

Sykes battled hard up forward for United and looked the most likely for Canberra.

With Central Coast Mariners, Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC already assured of a finals berth, Melbourne now look the most likely to join them in fourth spot now that its three points clear of Canberra.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Thorlakson 89)
Canberra Untied 0